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Review: The Disaster Artist is hilarious look at making of worst film of all time

PUBLISHED: 08:42 08 December 2017

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina Mintz

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina Mintz

© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Independently made to the tune of $6 million, 2003 romantic drama The Room has gained a cult following as one of the worst films of all time. Actor-director James Franco pays tribute with this comedic dramatisation of the making of the film.

Dave Franco as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina MintzDave Franco as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina Mintz

The Disaster Artist (15)

***

Tommy Wiseau (pronounced Why Zoh, rather than Whiz Oh, as I’d always assumed) is a fantastic movie star name: it starts out Italian American mobster and ends up French intellectual.

It suits him because he is the ultimate, all-inclusive Hollywood movie star.

Wiseau’s claim to immortality is writing, directing, producing, starring in and paying for The Room, a terrible movie often claimed as the worst ever made, which has become a cross between Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Wiseau is a modern day Ed Wood, but unlike Wood’s epics, The Room has proved endlessly watchable, and for over a decade it has played to packed screening where the audiences shout along with the atrocious dialogue and weird line readings and throw around American footballs and plastic spoons.

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina MintzJames Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Photo: Warner Bros/Justina Mintz

James Franco’s film tells the story of his co-star Greg Sestero (played by Dave Franco) who comes to Hollywood with Wiseau (James Franco) after meeting in acting class. After getting nowhere Wiseau decides to make his own break by writing and directing a film but during the chaotic shoot, Wiseau’s obsessive and possessive nature comes the fore.

The first thing to be said about The Disaster Artist is that it exceptionally entertaining and frequently hilarious. Told by Judd Apatow that not in a million years will he make it in Hollywood, Wiseau asks, “but after that?”

It’s fun but there’s substance to it. We laugh at him but we don’t look down at him, even though the film reveals some fairly unpleasant aspects of his personality.

The Disaster Artist is packed with star cameos (Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Kristen Bell) and what really makes the film something more than just a good time is its humility. The big names are attracted to the story because deep down they realise how close they are to Wiseau, how random success is even if you do have talent, and how random success is if you don’t have talent.

James Franco is an actor who can be anything between woeful and wonderful, but this is his moment. He is helped by some marvellous prosthetics but this is an inspired performance. The only little criticism is that while everybody keeps talking about Wiseau’s unidentifiable Eastern European accent, to me he often sounded a bit Charlie Chan.

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